Justice For Iran – 2 May 2014: More than two weeks have passed since Islamic Republic Intelligence and Security forces launched a violent attack on political prisoners incarcerated in ward 350 at Evin prison. Despite concerns and protests, state authorities have yet to identify and hold responsible the perpetrators of this heinous act.
Furthermore, Islamic judicial authorities have taken the shameless step of accusing political prisoners, their families and those journalists who have reported on these alleged crimes, of ‘causing disturbance’ and threatening them with legal action. In addition, state authorities have arrested Kaveh Doroshafaie, the brother of Yashar Daroshafaie, one of the inmates of ward 350, while threatening other families with arrest, including Massoumeh Dehghan and Mrs. Abdolfattah Soltani.
Under the guise of searching personal properties of prisoners, on 19 April 2014, tens of prison officials and intelligence forces entered ward 350, reserved for political prisoners, but instead launched a violent attack on a number of inmates. Denial of access to medical care and facilities, transfer of 32 inmates, most of whom suffered many injuries, to solitary cells, insulting and dehumanising mistreatment of prisoners through verbal abuse, shaving their heads and faces, placing their wrists and ankles in cuffs, chaining the injured to their beds, destroying their personal properties and refusing to provide information to their families, are some of the instances where the authorities have blatantly violated the rights of prisoners.
In a letter addressed to Hassan Rouhani, 28 prisoners in ward 350 describe the manner in which the attack took place. Prison officials transferred 32 prisoners (27 of whom were severely injured and 5 others) to solitary confinement. In two letters the prisoners provide the names of 24 inmates and provide details of the manner in which they were subjected to extreme physical abuse. According to the latest information available, state authorities have ignored their families’ repeated requests for their transfer to medical care facilities.
Family members of ward 350 prisoners gathered in front of the presidential complex in Tehran and on 24 April 2014 issued a statement to President Rouhani demanding “the formation of a truth commission composed of three branches of the government, the members of which should be granted immediate access to ward 350 in order to examine all evidence and collect testimonies from among eyewitnesses and victims of the incident.”
Subsequently, on 28 April, in a letter to Sadeq Larijani, the Head of the Judiciary, the families expressed their concerns and sought accountability regarding the ‘criminal actions’ committed by Gholamhossein Esmaili, the Head of Iran’s State Prisons, Ali Ashraf Sheidi, the Head of Evin prison, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor and Mostafa Poumohammadi, the Minister of Justice.
However, Islamic Republic authorities have failed to take any legal action to look into this incident and the victims remain in critical condition. Government and judicial authorities not only refuse to investigate this matter, but also repeatedly deny any attack, violence, or torture has been committed by prison, intelligence or security forces.
Meanwhile, in addition to statements and testimonies by ward 350 inmates and their family members pointing to severe physical abuse, video clips and photos taken during family visitation sessions immediately following the incident provide further evidence regarding these acts of violence. In his communications with family members, Mehdi Khodabakhshi, who oversees prisons in Iran, has also confirmed the attacks took place. However, he has also gone on to state: “according to reports we have received the attacks have not been as severe as projected; the inmates have resisted. Such consequences are natural when any struggle takes place.”
In light of such statements, some of the inmates wrote the following to the Tehran prosecutor: “All those who are legally responsible to report and confirm the injuries, are fully aware of the details but have intentionally collaborated with those suspected of committing this crime and have failed to respond to the prisoners’ demands.” The letter published on 1 May 2014 goes on to emphasise that the actions committed by the responsible authorities and those involved in the attack violate articles of the Islamic Republic Constitution, Penal Code, Prison Regulations and Administrative Violations Procedural Act. In accordance with the Penal Code, prisoners are demanding legal recourse against those who committed the crime.
Justice for Iran (JFI) strongly condemns these actions and holds responsible state, intelligence, security and judicial authorities and officers involved in the attacks, Evin management involved with the attacks, as well as medical staff who refused to attend to those suffering from injuries as a result of severe physical abuse. Justice for Iran demands a full investigation must be carried out and those implicated must be held accountable.
In light of the above, JFI is announcing the following names and details pertaining to those officials who have ordered or taken part in the violent incident committed against the prisoners of Evin ward 350 in order to facilitate legal recourse. The following is based on reliable and verifiable information received from prisoners and their families:
Government and Judicial Authorities
Government and judicial authorities responsible for the safety of prisoners and investigation into any violation of their rights, have not only failed to do so, but have also denied the incident took place and instead proceeded to threaten the prisoners and their family members. They are:
- Sadeq Amoli Larijani, Head of the Islamic Republic Judiciary
Larijani has failed to respond to family members of affected political prisoners requesting investigation and legal action to punish those involved in acts of violence committed against the prisoners in ward 350. He denied the incident took place and stated: “there has been no violation”. He went on to threaten protestors and said: “the judiciary follows these matters closely” and that “it will no longer show any tolerance.”
- Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Minister of Justice
He is another official who has denied the incident took place. In a letter to the Head of the Judiciary, family members of ward 350 prisoners have official filed a complaint against Pourmohammadi and demanded an investigation.
- Mohseni Ejeie, Judiciary Spokesperson
In addition to denial of the reports and siding with prison officials, he has threatened both the prisoners and their family members with legal action in response to their role in reporting on the incident.
- Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran Prosecutor
Based on his mandate, Dolatabadi is responsible to investigate any incident involving physical abuse of prisoners and report to their families. However, he has failed to respond to the families protesting in front of his office. In a letter to the Head of the Judiciary, those family members who were physically assaulted have launched a formal complaint against Dolatabadi demanding redress.
- Gholamhossein Esmaili,(Former) Head of Iran’s Prisons’ organization
Esmaili both denied the occurrence of the attack took place, or that anyone aside from prison employees were involved in searching through personal belongings of ward 350 prisoners. Islamic Republic officials transferred Esmaili shortly following the attack took place. He is now the Prosecutor and Head of Appeals Court in the capital.
- Sohrab Soleymani, Head of Tehran Prisons
Soleymani is in charge of protection of prisoners based on terms of the Prison Regulations. After the ward 350 incident, he categorically denied anything had taken place and said: “It was a simple inspection which takes place on a monthly and regular basis.”
According to reports by prisoners and their families published by media, a number of high-ranking officials were central in the attack on political prisoners. Some issued the order, others committed the act while the rest were eyewitnesses. Based on a testimony signed by 74 ward 350 prisoners: “prison officials including security and intelligence forces not only did not prevent the physical and verbal assaults against the inmates or the destruction of their properties, but also encouraged security officers, including those in civilian clothing, to attack the prisoners.
- Ali Ashraf Rashidi Aqdam, Deputy Chief of Tehran Prisons’ Organization and Head of Evin Prison
He is fully responsible and accountable by law for the care of all prisoners. Prior to this incident he has played a role in harassment of political prisoners, in particular female political prisoners, and because of his human rights violations has been subjected to sanctions by the European Union.
- Hassan Qobadi, Chief of Security at Evin Prison
He is among those officials who witnessed the acts of violence committed against the prisoner. A statement written by political prisoners and published on JARS indicates: “Qobadi issued the order to attack cells 1 and 3 through the prison PA system.”
- Javad Momeni, Executive Vice Chief of Evin Prison
According to the terms of his position, he is in charge of safety and security of prisoners and must respond to the incident within a short span of time. In addition to his failure to do so, on 24 April, despite a court order, he prevented Akbar Amini’s transfer to medical care facilities outside prison premises.
10.Colonel Amanian, Security Chief of Tehran Prisons
He is among the authorities who both ordered and witnessed the attack on ward 350 prisoners. According to Zoleikha Moussavi, Hossein Ronaghi’s mothers, “While beating prisoners, Colonel Amanian told them next time we will beat you until you die.”
11.Ali Sadeqi, Deputy Chief of Security at Evin Prison
In reports provided by political prisoners he has been identified as one of the “armed authorities who ordered the attack.”
12.Haj Nasseri, Deputy Chief of Evin Prison
Ward 350 prisoners’ report identifies him as one of the perpetrators of the attack on prisoners. There is no information on his first name.
13.Bahraini, Security Chief at Rajaieshahr prison in Karaj
A number of reports identify him as among those officials present and witness to the attack on ward 350 prisoners. Bahraini is presumed to be his pseudonym and his real name is Morteza Saiedi.
IRGC intelligence forces
According to reports issued by ward 350 prisoners, in addition to prison officials a number of elements from unit 130 of the IRGC and a few of the interrogators of ward A of IRGC were also present.
14. Reza Sarraji, Head of Unit 130 of IRGC
15. Morteza Behzadi, Unit 130 of IRGC
16. Mirmotamedi, Unit 130 of IRGC
17.Ali Yaghoubi, Unit 130 of IRGC
Prisoners have identified all of the above-named officials among the “most violent perpetrators” of the attack.
Some of the ward 350 prisoners state that a significant number of officials involved in physical assault of the prisoners were interrogators and guards of ward 209 of Evin who are among Ministry of Intelligence forces.
18.Rouhollah Heydarzadeh &
19.Haji Maleki, Ministry of Intelligence forces
Ward 350 prisoners report they “showed the most intense level of violence, cheering guards to beat and assault the prisoners.”
Evin Prison Medical Team
20.Dr. Majid Rezazadeh, Head of Medical Unit at Evin
In clear violation of his mandate and profession as a doctor he has denied medical care to prisoners who were injured during the attack. Furthermore, he prevented their transfer to the hospital. He also confiscated their medical papers stating the nature of injuries suffered during the incident. Based on reports from Evin, after issuing the emergency transfer papers for Omid Behrouzi and Esmail Barzegari to Taleqani Hospital on 19 April by Rezazadeh, they were turned around, taken back to their rojoms and handcuffed to beds at Evin’s medical unit. Furthermore, he refused the medical opinion of doctors at Tajrish hospital and ordered Akbar Amini’s return to Evin. According to prisoners who have been dealing with the medical unit at Evin over the past few years, Majid Rezazadeh is a central figure responsible for illegal and ill treatment of political prisoners denying them access to medical care and medication.
21.Dr. Shabani, Evin Medical Unit doctor
He has refused medical care and hospital transfer to Massoud Arab Choubdar, an injured prisoner whose shoulder was dislocated during the physical assault on 19 April. In addition, Omid Behrouzi and Esmail Barzegari were chained to their beds and stated Dr. Shabani refused to fill in forms to describe injuries suffered by political prisoners. Despite the severity of their injuries both prisoners were denied medical care and transfer. Dr. Shabani was also implicated in the physical assault, medical transfer and eventual death of Hoda Saber. There is no information about his first name.